Singaporeans are a diverse people compromising of Chinese, Malay and Indian ethnicities with many different religious practices.
3 February 2014| Last updated on 28 June 2017
Singaporeans are a diverse people compromising of Chinese, Malay and Indian ethnicities. With the addition of residents and expats coming from all corners of the globe, Singapore is a truly diverse country with many different religious practices.
While the Constitution of Singapore protects and encourages freedom of religion, there are some restrictions placed on the public discussion of religion, and publications are generally censored when religion is discussed, as are any negative or inflammatory portrayals of religion. The Government does not tolerate speech or actions that it deems could adversely affect racial or religious harmony.
In 1972 the Singapore government de-registered and banned the activities of Jehovah's Witnesses in Singapore on the grounds that its members refuse to perform military service (which is obligatory for all male citizens), salute the flag, or swear oaths of allegiance to the state. Singapore has banned all written materials published by the International Bible Students Association and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, both publishing arms of the Jehovah's Witnesses. A person who possesses a prohibited publication can be fined up to $1500 (Singapore Dollars $2,000) and jailed up to 12 months for a first conviction. The Unification Church has also been banned in Singapore since 1982 as they were deemed to be a potential cult and thus disruptive to public welfare.
However most major religious dominations are present in Singapore and there are people who, according to the census, have no religious affiliations at all. There are churches, monasteries , mosques, synagogues, alters, statues and religious temples for people to worship.
These are the most widely practiced religions in Singapore:
The early Chinese settlers are responsible for bringing the Buddhist religion and practices to Singapore. There are monasteries and Dharma centres from all three major traditions of Buddhism; Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana.
Followers of the Tao (The Way) adhere to the teachings of the ancient Chinese religious philosophy of Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoism. Taoist temples and shrines are abundant in Singapore.
Most mosques in Singapore cater to Sunni Muslims due to the vast majority of Singaporean Muslims adhering to the Sunni Shafi'i or Hanafi school of thought, although there are mosques that cater to the needs of the Shia community as well.
Christian churches of most denominations are present in Singapore. They were established with the arrival of various missionaries after the coming of Sir Stamford Raffles. Together with Buddhism, Islam and Hinduism, Christianity is considered one of the four main religions today. Christianity in Singapore is not tied to a particular ethnic or racial group.
The majority of Singapore's present Hindus are descendants of Indians who migrated soon after the founding of Singapore in 1819. The early temples are still the central points of rituals and festivals, which are held throughout the year.
There are many other religions that are practiced by a minority of Singaporeans including Sikhism, Judaism and Jainism. These religions came with the various settlers that have now firmly set their roots in Singapore.